BNSF Big Blue River Bridge (Hoag)

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Big Blue River
South of Hoag, Gage County, Nebraska

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Name BNSF Big Blue River Bridge (Hoag)
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor King Bridge Company of Cleveland
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 600 Feet Total, 129.5 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss, Trestle and Modular Concrete Beam
Substructure Type Stone Masonry, Concrete, Timber Pile and Steel Pile
Date Built 1902, Approaches Partially Replaced 2009
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 26.35
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date October 2019
In 1870-71, the Omaha & South Western Railroad built a line between Crete, Nebraska and Beatrice, Nebraska.
The following year, the route was leased to the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad in Nebraska. The B&MR (NE) owned a considerable amount of trackage around Nebraska, and this route connected to an existing mainline at Crete.
In 1880, the Republican Valley Railroad built a line between Beatrice and Wymore, Nebraska. Two years later, the RVRR was sold the B&MR.
Around the same time, the B&MR became a part of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy system, which owned and had built tracks extending from Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver and the Twin Cities. The B&MR now had access to a major railroad network.
CB&Q operated this as a branch line, until 1970. In 1970, the CB&Q merged with Northern Pacific and Great Northern to form Burlington Northern.
BN continued to operate this line until 1996, when they became part of BNSF Railway, following a merger with the Santa Fe.
BNSF operated this line as a branch line as well, although they abandoned a segment between Beatrice and Wymore in 2002.
Following the abandonment, most of that track was pulled up, and no trace remains. Today, the segment between Crete and Beatrice is still owned and operated by BNSF as the Beatrice Subdivision.

Located about a mile south of the small town of Hoag, this truss bridge crosses the Big Blue River at a dead end on Juniper Road.
Several other truss bridges around the CB&Q system share a similar design to this structure, and were built by King Bridge Company during this time frame.
Built in 1902, this particular bridge consists of a large, 6-panel pin connected Pratt Through Truss. This truss follows a standardized CB&Q design. In addition, it is approached by both wooden trestle, as well as newer modular concrete spans on the west end. The bridge rests on concrete, stone, timber and steel substructures. It appears the concrete spans were added in late 2009.
Unlike some of the other similar trusses along the CB&Q, this truss has a unique design feature. The outermost lower connections are riveted, while the remaining connections are pinned. The members are also riveted at the joints for extra strength.
It appears that at some point, the bridge was raised, likely to alleviate flooding concerns. Evidence can be seen on the east abutment, as well as the pier. It appears the original stone work was capped with concrete on the pier, and a whole new concrete abutment was built on top of an older stone abutment.
The vertical members in the middle are laced style beams, while the endposts are solid on three sides. The outer vertical members consist of heavier laced beams. The portal and sway bracings are typical of a CB&Q bridge.
Unfortunately, many similar trusses have been lost in this area since the Burlington Northern merger. This structure represents one of only a few remaining such bridges.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. The approaches being replaced indicates BNSF intends to keep this line in service. It also appears that no major alterations have been made to the truss span.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the lack of remaining pinned trusses in the area.
The photo above is an overview.

Big Blue River Railroad Bridges
Upstream UP Big Blue River Bridge (DeWitt)
Downstream BNSF Big Blue River Bridge (Beatrice)


Source Type


Build Date CB&Q - Allen Moore collection - BRHS Archives
Contractor King Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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